James learns key work skills

“Before Project Search I applied for a few jobs and I wasn’t successful. The project has given me confidence and an opportunity to learn skills and gain experience in a work environment.”

These are the words of James Clear who has completed a successful internship at Musgrove Park Hospital as part of Project Search.

The project is a one year internship which offers work placements to individuals who have a learning disability or autism, to learn work skills which prepare them for their working careers. It is a partnership between Discovery, Bridgwater & Taunton College, Somerset County Council and the Somerset NHS Foundation Trust.

It runs as an academic course where the interns complete three different rotations throughout the year, each rotation is around 10 weeks’ long. The aim is to support individuals to learn work skills while also supporting hospital departments with their duties.

James says: “I started on maternity reception and I was helping with filing, discharging the patient, delivering notes to coding boxes. I had I.T. related skills and it developed into an administration role. I enjoyed it very much and I became more comfortable and started on the phones and that was a bit of a trial. I never thought I would be working with patients, visitors and taking them to the mother and be working on the ward, but I’ve had a great time doing it.”

He continues: “After the maternity ward I stayed on for another term, I gained more responsibility and visitors to the ward would see me first rather than another receptionist. I’ve learnt how to handle myself a bit better and speak to others without feeling nervous.”

When the pandemic started the internships ended but they were supported online and continued to study for the Care Certificate which is a requirement of the project.

Before Covid James was going through the process of applying for a business administration level two apprenticeship in the maternity unit but this was delayed because he needed to self-isolate at home with his parents.

When James’ apprenticeship ends in June he’s going to apply for another higher apprenticeship in level 3 business administration.

The Project Search team offers intensive support to departments and delivers mentor training prior to an intern starting. Coaches support individuals to apply for jobs and learn their new role in a way that is meaningful to them.

Abi Bond, Project Search Job Coach says: “Watching James grow in confidence has been really rewarding; he deserves every bit of success.”

James would like to encourage anyone else who’s hesitating about applying for an internship with Project Search:

“Go for it, you feel happy when you’re doing it and at the end of the day you feel that you’ve achieved something that you haven’t done before. It’s improved my confidence hugely outside of work too when I socialise.”

Since the project started in 2015, Project Search has had a high success rate with interns securing employment, and changing a young individual’s working career for the better.